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Where We Are: Paris, France

I was so excited to come to Paris! I just wanted to eat Macarons and French Onion Soup and crepes and baguettes and croissants all day. It’s home to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame and Disneyland Paris, and I’m sure you already know why people are excited about Paris.

The Eiffel Tower at night was even more dreamy than I could have possibly imagined.

After only three hours of sleep and a 6AM flight, we were exhausted but had no time to waste. We grabbed coffees and powered through our first day in Paris. As usual, we started with a walking tour to get the lowdown on the city. The tour wasn’t actually that great, but we followed it up macarons and the Eiffel Tower and our first day in Paris was officially off to a great start!

Macarons from Laduree was one of the things I was MOST excited for in Paris.

We noticed pretty quickly that Paris was not a backpacker city. Yeah, there are backpackers here, but it’s mostly vacationers and they all look fabulous. (Fun fact: I don’t look fabulous ever on the road.) I’m honestly amazed Laduree even let me into the store in my overnight pigtail French braids (ha! French.) and hiking shoes.

I can’t say I blame backpackers for coming here. It’s not even because it’s expensive (it is, but that’s not why I don’t think they’re coming). Paris is just SO crowded. If you want to do anything in Paris, you better get there when they open or be prepared to wait in line for hours. This is the only city we’ve been to on this trip (or really ever) where we haven’t been able to do things because of the insanely long lines. Even the things we are able to do, we’ve had to plan meticulously and still deal with crowds.

The view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

This is not a city you can just explore and do things along the way. This is a city you need to plan in advance, arrive early, purchase tickets to things (and print them!!!) in advance. That’s not really the kind of thing we’ve been used to doing on this trip. And for that reason, I don’t feel like it really attracts the backpacker ground.

That said! Paris has definitely been an unforgettable experiences. It’s been breathtaking and it’s been frustrating. We loved spending three days in the city and eating all it’s delicious food, but we are also SUPER excited to see what Disneyland Paris has to offer!

The Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris absolutely took my breath away. I’ve been in a lot of beautiful churches on this trip, but this one was my favorite. (Really original, I know!)

Initial Reactions on Paris

  1. So many runners! This city is full of runners! You can’t miss the packs of running groups as they make their way along the Seine or passing through Tuileries Gardens. They’re all over Paris and we love that about this city.
  2. It’s not quaint. My vision of Paris was wandering along cobblestone streets to the Eiffel Tower where I’d have a picnic of Camembert and honey on a baguette before stopping for wine and onion soup at a nearby cafe. They technically have  all of those things in Paris (minus the picnic part, you can actually sit on the gardens in front of the Eiffel Tower), but it will be a million other people with selfie sticks and people hacking Eiffel Tower keychains at you. That’s not to say it’s not an amazing city, it’s just that the areas I’ve been to so far have not been quiet and charming as I pictured. That said …
  3. The Latin Quarter is probably our favorite neighborhood of our whole trip. The Latin Quarter is one of the oldest areas of Paris and was the most preserved from its original construction. It’s chalk full of adorable cafes spilling onto patio squares (many at which you can get a decent three course meal for only 10 Euro), cozy bars which are extra inviting on a chilly rainy night, and patisseries selling fresh crepes, buttery croissants and macarons of all colors. It’s a really great area and is right up there with Getsemani in Cartagena for us, which we adored. Latin Quarter does actually have tiny, winding, cobble stone streets, but they’re not through the architecture you picture in France. And by that I mean …
  4. All the houses look the same. So you picture Paris and you picture those cream colored buildings, with the black wrought iron balconies along the second and fifth floors and the angled darker roof? All the houses in Paris look exactly like that. You could look down any street and see nothing but these buildings repeated on both sides for as far as you can see. While one building is beautiful, that many feels a little Stepford. This was definitely one of the less expected aspected for Paris for me.

Almost all the streets in Paris are lined with these typical “Haussmann” style Parisian buildings.

What you need to know:

  • Population: 2.24 million
  • Altitude: 35 meters
  • Exchange Rate: 0.85 Euro to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: French and English
  • Walking Tour: Sandeman’s Free Tour of Paris
  • Time Zone: Central European Summer Time, GMT +2 (7 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes, but the traffic here is madness so it can’t possibly be a good idea
  • Uber: Yes
  • Public Transit: Bus & Train
  • Emergency Number: 112 (all responders can speak English)
  • Running: We didn’t run in Paris, but there are many great routes along the Seine and all the gardens that you could get a lot of great running in (and you definitely won’t be alone!).
  • American Football: Yes, but usually aired the following day. Many bars in the Latin Quarter were playing the Monday night game on Tuesday night.
  • Starbucks: Yes, many.
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: None.
  • McDonald’s Veggie Burger: Yes
  • Coffee Price:  4 Euro (~$4.75 USD) for a grande cold brew
  • Beer Price: 5 Euro (~$6 USD) for a Heineken (pint) at happy hour, and usually about 7 Euro (~$8 USD) regular price